How to do a clean install of Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 29, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft released a tool yesterday that enables you to create installation media, an ISO image or USB files, so that you can use it to upgrade existing Windows systems or clean install Windows 10.

Users who run Windows 7 or Windows 8 currently will run into issues when they try to do a clean install as they are prompted for a product key during installation of the new operating system.

When they try to enter their Windows 7 or 8 product key, they will receive information that it is invalid and not accepted.

The issue here is that existing keys need to be converted to Windows 10 keys first before they can be used to activate a Windows 10 system.

So how do you achieve that?

According to Microsoft, you need to run an upgrade first on an existing system to convert the product key. Once you have done that, you may use the product key to do a clean install of Windows 10.

That's obviously not overly comfortable, considering that you spend time upgrading the system only to clean install Windows 10 afterwards.

There is no other solution for this at the time of writing. An online product key converter would be handy for this, or maybe even an option to call Microsoft and get the key converted as both options should take less time.

Anyway, here is the process in detail

  1. Backup your existing system. I cannot stress enough that you should back up important files before you run the upgrade. Since you do want to run a clean install anyway, make sure all important files are backed up to a save location before you start.
  2. Accept the upgrade offer that is displayed on the Windows 7 or Windows 8 system. If you have troubles getting the Windows 10 upgrade offer to display read the linked article. You find a tool download link there which should resolve the issue and display the upgrade offer on your machine.
  3. You may create an ISO image or prepare a USB Flash drive alternatively, and use installation media to upgrade. Since you do need one of the two anyway for the clean installation of Windows 10, you may very well use it right away.
  4. Run the upgrade. Either use Windows Update for that and follow the prompts displayed on the screen, or boot the PC from the installation media you created earlier and follow the instructions to upgrade the existing system.
  5. Once the upgrade process completes -- you will notice that when the system boots the Windows 10 desktop -- you have converted the product key successfully to a Windows 10 product key. This means that you can now use clean installation media to install the operating system. Note that it seems only possible to install Windows 10 anew on the PC you ran the upgrade on.

If you upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer and successfully activated Windows 10 on this PC in the past, you won't have a Windows 10 product key, and you can skip the product key page by selecting the Skip button. Your PC will activate online automatically so long as the same edition of Windows 10 was successfully activated on this PC by using the free Windows 10 upgrade offer. (source)


Some users have reportedly problems activating Windows 10 after doing a clean install of the operating system.

These users should check the following on the system:

  • Check under Settings > Update & Security >  Activation whether "Windows is Activated", and if the right edition is installed.
  • Check under Settings > Accounts > Your Account to make sure you are signed in to your verified Microsoft Account.
  • Use the following VB Script to check the product key and compare it against the following generic keys
  • Windows 10 Home - YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
  • Windows 10 Pro - VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
  • Windows 10 Home SL- BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT
  • Windows 10 Pro VL-MAK - QJNXR-7D97Q-K7WH4-RYWQ8-6MT6Y
  • If you have a generic key, there is no other solution currently but to call Microsoft Support (source)

Closing Words

The only option right now to clean install Windows 10 is to run an upgrade first. The only exception to the rule is if you bought a full copy of Windows 10 as you get a product key with it that you use during installation to activate it.

Now you: Did you run into issues installing Windows 10?

How to do a clean install of Windows 10
Article Name
How to do a clean install of Windows 10
The guide walks you through the steps of installing Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system directly without upgrading an older version of Windows.
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  1. aaaaaaaa said on July 15, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    it eventually did update but as you say it took hours before it started. Now that I’m up to date with Seven the updates are much quicker.

  2. Dave Knadler said on October 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I’ll add my own tale of woe here. I upgraded my HP Envy 4 laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10 a few weeks ago. After about a week, the machine started running slower and slower until it was almost unusable. I thought: Since I’ve already updated and activated Windows 10, I’ll just do a clean reinstall.

    Created the installation media on a USB stick via instructions, started the install, and … voila! It hangs with the message that the installation couldn’t be completed. Checked for error on memory and drive; they’re both OK. Now I can’t get beyond either the “Time to enter a product key” screen, or “Let’s get connected.” The wait icon just sits there spinning until I do a hard shutdown and restart. Can’t use the keyboard to enter anything.

    Let’s just say I’m not amused. Now I have a perfectly good laptop that’s been rendered inoperable by Windows 10.

  3. Wol said on October 22, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    @ asdasadsad: yes, it eventually did update but as you say it took hours before it started. Now that I’m up to date with Seven the updates are much quicker.
    @ Bruce – yes, but the idea is to get back to Seven, not to install Ten!

  4. Bruce Johns said on October 4, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Or you guys could skip all this crap and clean install windows 10. Click Skip for the product key once first reboot. Then download kmspico from your favourite torrent site. Run it and Done. 5minutes activated. No one has the time to mess with this when you have a valid windows 7 serial as I did.

  5. anon1238432842 said on September 1, 2015 at 1:04 am

    I’ve done the install on three machines so far, two went smoothly using the media creation tool to download each Win 10 separately.

    The 3rd one, upgraded from 7, worked for a while and said it was activated then it stopped logging in (goes to a black screen after you enter the password).

    So, considering it was activating, tried to reset, that did not work at all, had to make a USB with an iso to do a clean install, ended up recovering the product key which turns out to be a generic one and entered it thinking it was unique at the time.

    Now it says the activation is blocked.

    Going to try the windows update to see if it fixes it, but this is a complete mess.

    Spoke to MS tech on the phone, they said to just wait for activation.

    Spoke to a tech on their chat because I was concerned and they said we would need to buy a new product key, or find the Win 7 key, which is now lost with the install (should have backed it up).

    So, might end up reinstalling, and not entering a product key, and hoping the hardware ID is recognized, if not I’m stuck..

    Total f*** up by Microsoft, absolute mess, and Windows 10 is not even finished.

    Really unhappy with the situation, I will be moving to Linux ASAP, and recommening my clients do the same.

    Thanks for this article and comments btw, it is helpful.

    1. Wol said on October 5, 2015 at 3:39 am

      >>Spoke to a tech on their chat because I was concerned and they said we would need to buy a new product key, or find the Win 7 key, which is now lost with the install (should have backed it up).<<

      After a couple of months using W10 I have had more than enough: two full pages of issues "\I've written – and that's just the ones I've bothered to note down! So many of the things that go wrong are random: the same action produces different results so you can't really isolate them.

      I suspect that during the testing the same sort of thing happened and, because it couldn't necessarily be reproduced, was written off as "rested and found serviceable".

      I reformatted and reinstalled W7 yesterday on my two computers, ran SP1 but now find neither will do the ipdates! They just sit there saying "looking for updates"- has anyone a solution?


      1. asdsadsad said on October 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

        “I reformatted and reinstalled W7 yesterday on my two computers, ran SP1 but now find neither will do the ipdates! They just sit there saying “looking for updates”- has anyone a solution?”

        How long have you waited on that looking for updates screen? I read on internet and had it myself that it can take several hour to find updates and then even more to install them. When I reinstalled my windows 7 it took around 4 hours to find updates and several more to install them. Just be patience, maybe leave the pc for a night on.

    2. Aaron said on September 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Yeah, I wonder what happens a year from now when the upgrade is no longer “free” from Windows 7 or 8. Will we go to fresh install Windows 10 and it won’t work, and then we we try to install Windows 7 or 8 and do an upgrade (because that’s the only way we KNOW that works), we’ll suddenly be greeted with a $199.99 price tag?

      WHY CAN’T WE JUST TRADE IN OUR 7 or 8 LICENSE for a new Windows 10 license? I’d gladly do that. Just permanently deactivate my old Windows 7 or Windows 8 license and give me a 10 so I know I have it and can use it in the future if necessary.

      This is just utterly ridiculous.

  6. Aaron C said on August 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    quickandeasy – you have to go back again and reinstall windows 7, activate it, then you can do a search for “Windows 10 upgrade tool” and use the link to do an in-place upgrade. Choose “Keep nothing” and upgrade, then activate. Then you can do a clean install. Just make sure when doing the clean install, you select “skip” whenever you’re asked for the license key.

  7. quickandeasy said on August 18, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Ok, So i’m in a bind here. I actually reserved my Windows 10 upgrade on my Windows 7 Pro SP1 system but didn’t go through the actual Windows 10 upgrade process but went straight into installing a clean Windows 10 Pro from ISO through my USB key. Now, it shows my Windows is not activated. Now what? LOL

  8. Neda said on August 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Thank u so much, great help & clarification!

  9. Daniel said on August 13, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Hi All
    Had the same key issues as described here. Thanks to all who weighed in on the topic.
    Just wanted to share that after reading here, I first upgraded windows 7 home premium x32 to windows 10 – running the setup file, in windows, from the usb stick i created.
    I then booted from usb and skipped entering the key both times it asked for it. (I tried the new windows 10 key I got, no luck)
    After the installation I checked the activation status and it’s ok.
    So everything ok here.

    Again thanks for the help.

  10. nemesh said on August 11, 2015 at 8:29 am

    in my office i upgrade 10 pc and laptop from win 7 to windows 10 successfully . but in one laptop message appear windows not activated and asked for product key. when i check my computer properties i saw windows not activated over there, so i take long root from win 7 reinstall to win 8.1 and upgrade to win 10 pro. any one know the product key of win 10? so that i don’t need to take long way…
    second question in one win7 core 2 duo processor desktop, in my computer properties windows is activated so i upgrade to win 10, upgrade smoothly but in middle stage message appear something like in blue screen
    “problem apply_image operation ”
    so i re-upgrade win 10 but now message appear windows not activated and asked for product key.
    what to do my friend. should i take long way or there is win 10 product key…

  11. Dave said on August 10, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    …and (commet #3) you can’t do the update if you go offline once the files are downloaded. You need to stay online right up til the “Installing Windows 10” screen appears.

  12. Dave said on August 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    So further to me comment a few hours ago, the awful upgrade tool that Microsoft provides does in fact have a clean install option. It’s option 3 “keep nothing”. Seems to be anyway.

  13. Dave said on August 10, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Well this is lame of Microsoft. I’m glad I found the article for the crucial bit of info “serial numbers need to be converted first”. My laptop’s product key is in the frickin BIOS (or whatever) and the tool still wouldn’t do anything but an upgrade. And I had to get the tool twice. Once on my desktop, then all over again on the laptop cos you can’t launch the USB version for an upgrade. Grrrrrrrr

  14. Johnjt70 said on August 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I have install the upgrade windows 10 over windows7 professional. My problem is, after password the screen blinks with a white screen. I can see some of the desktop. At he bottom I see :search web and internet” Whats up? Thanks for any insight.

  15. mat said on August 9, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    here is how it went for me..nightmare!

    Didnt realise that win7 key wouldnt work, just rushed in and went for clean install from the iso right away..big mistake because I wouldnt have a win10 key .. Used media creation, decided to go with the single language version as it was 3.1gb not 3.7gb and i wasnt interested in any other languages really..

    So skipped the key and had the “windows not activated” message in bottom right. I was made up at windows 10 it was fantastic!

    It worked fine with no key whatsoever! It only limits updates and customising desktop, but its easy enough to get around. But being a perfectionist, I decided to claim my genuine key so I had to reinstall windows 7 and go the upgrade way yesterday..took about 12hrs by the time win7 had installed and done all of its updates, which apparently it needs to have to do the upgrade ok..

    So I had it done today with windows 10 on it, activated. I used a product key finder and took a photo just in case, although pretty useless I think..

    But I still wasnt happy as I had my old windows install in windows.old, I didnt know if just deleting that would be the same as a clean install and I didnt want to store junk there for no reason so I decided to go again with the clean install of windows 10.

    So I did that, but I had the iso for the single language version – and it wont activate seemingly because its a different version to standard windows 10 home.

    So now I have to go through the download again, to reinstall with a normal windows 10 Home. been about 2hrs so far, 2 more hrs (I only have 3mb connection here in spain),

    So I am on my 3rd attempt, has taken 2 days. The end product is great, but the upgrade system,..not impressed, big waste of time to do somthing simple. It is annoying that the media creation tool decides whats best for you and does it, its about the 4th time Ive downloaded this 3.5GB file, its always practically the same thing. Why a key for windows 10 home wont work for Windows 10 single language I dont know and pisses me off..its surely just a smaller version of the exact same thing. .

  16. Miguel said on August 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Mine keeps saying failed to validate product key. I did it where i saved it to a USB and tried to run the update from there but 3 or 4 times now it keeps saying failed to validate product key

    1. Jason said on August 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Did you do an inplace upgrade 1st, let it activate then do a clean install?

  17. Michael said on August 5, 2015 at 11:13 pm


    Here’s my story:

    1. Hard drive #1 had Windows 8.1 installed (but this hard drive was full, so I couldn’t upgrade).
    2. Hard drive #2 = Brand new 1TB

    1. With hard drive #1 installed, download WIN10 CLEAN INSTALLER to thumb drive.
    2. Remove HD#1
    3. Install HD#2
    4. Install WIN10 on HD#2 using thumb drive
    5. WIN10 installed just fine, but wasn’t ACTIVATED
    6. Reinstall HD#1 & download WIN 10 UPGRADE installer. (Windows upgrade option was no longer available to me via the tray icon for some reason).
    7. Transfer enough files from HD#1 to HD#2 to free up space for WIN10 upgrade. I freed up 10 GB to be safe. I used an external USB HD case, but you could easily do this with Google Drive, Dropbox, etc…
    8. Let WIN 10 UPGRADE installer do its thing until WIN10 is correctly installed. It should automatically be ACTIVATED.
    9. Uninstall HD#1
    10. Reinstall HD#2 and it, too, will now read as ACTIVATED. Why? Because WIN10 is tied to your BIOS/hardware. Though you’ve swapped the HD, you haven’t swapped the BIOS/hardware.

    My process was trial-and-error & included multiple annoying phone calls to Microsoft (and DL took FOREVER because I was on a slow connection); however, your process could be faster, especially if you begin with freeing up space on your original WIN 7/8.1 HD first.

    1. Aaron C said on August 5, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      THIS IS BRILLIANT! I have a spare hard drive laying around, so tonight I’m going to do something similar — I will just detach my clean install of Win10 and install my valid, legal version of 8.1 on the spare hard drive, do the upgrade until activation, then just put the “clean” Win10 back in and see what happens.

      BRILLIANT I say!

  18. Tickyul said on August 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Oh my, that is why my product-key will not work.

    So I have to upgrade first to W10 to get a new product-key……..THEN I get to do a clean-install using the new and valid product-key…………….BRILLIANT, SMH & CMEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Henry said on August 5, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Hey I am playing around with W10 at the moment and the thing that stokes me most is that the image tool works properly (called File History in Control Panel) this time around and a USB3 external HDD backs up the system in a few minutes. Something like 60 gigs are present as an upgrade from W7 Pro on an HP-840 I7 model. I do like using a DVD disk instead of the stick drive in W8.1 and it even works on this laptop that has no DVD reader at all. Plus I did not change a thing in the UEFI bios settings either. With a wry grin. Cheers Henry Wednesday, 5 August 2015 New Zealand

  20. Nirdesh said on August 4, 2015 at 5:18 am

    I want to do clean install windows 10 on my laptop which is currently running on Windows 7.

    My windows 7 is on C:\ and all backup data is on D:\

    Can I go ahead with clean install of Windows 10 considering nothing will be wiped out of my D:\ (imp data) ? Yes, I will be installing WIndows 10 on C:\

    Please suggest.

    1. Kript said on August 4, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      I have not done an upgrade yet, but have been running the preview on this computer since April.
      In preparation for actually doing an upgrade and getting programs to retrieve the key before a clean
      install, I have discovered that different programs are showing two (2) completely different keys on the
      same machine.
      Magic Jelly Bean, Produkey, and Backup Windows Key (vb script) show one key. It is the default preview
      one. Windows 10 Pro VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
      Speccy, Avg Tuneup, and a standard vb script are showing another key. Same computer. Hmmmm.
      Both can not be correct. They have to be getting information from different registry keys.
      I have to believe the other key is correct as Window 10 claims activated.

      Try several key tools before making the jump.

      1. Kript said on August 5, 2015 at 2:49 am

        I’ve reimaged my Windows 8.1 (Updated from Windows 8) and rerun all the key tools.
        The issue is the same as with 10, some tools show the original install key while the others show the updated key.
        Calls into question the validity of the tools.
        For giggles, say I had a windows 7 comp that was updated to 8, then again to 8.1, and now
        going to 10, just which damn key would the tools be showing me.

      2. Aaron C said on August 4, 2015 at 10:55 pm

        From everything else I’ve read, the 3V66T is the correct key. Supposedly there are no more “keys,” for upgrades, at least not visible ones for us. It is all “machine” or “hardware” based as far as the upgrades go. I think if you buy a retail key then you get a key. Otherwise, they’re all the 3V66T for us free upgrade folks + some signature at MS based on our hardware info.

  21. Aisha said on August 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

    i am completely unable to even clean my windows, if i install a fresh windows, i am in huge loss for losing my genuine product.
    suggest me what to do please, i already read too much articles.

  22. Milton said on August 1, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Did clean install windows 10 64bit Pro from usb media after running some hours Windows asked for restart and reverted to 32bit and activated

  23. Arend said on August 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Finally managed to active Windows 10!
    – Find a Windows 8.1 (Core) ISO (not that easy without MSDN subscription as all torrents are Pro versions)
    – Upgrade with media creation tool (using upgrade this pc) to Windows 10 while being logged into a Microsoft online account.
    – Make sure Windows 10 is activated
    – Wipe entire ssd and install a fresh copy
    – Login using your MS online account and voila!

    Pretty much as described in this blog post. If only I had known Microsoft would be this anal about the activation in advance. Wasted no less than a day on this mess.

    1. asdsadsad said on October 22, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      “Find a Windows 8.1 (Core) ISO (not that easy without MSDN subscription as all torrents are Pro versions)”

      You can download windows 8.1 legally from the microsoft:

  24. Mike said on August 1, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Total nightmare doing a cclean install.
    According to Microsoft Support in India, a clean install is not possible. My key was blocked upon the clean install, after doing the upgrade on my Windows 7 machine.


    1. mat said on August 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      I have the same issue..Upgrade was activated and then clean install afterwards was not activated and wont activate.. but my clean install was single language version so I am trying again with normal Windows 10 Home version..I think..its burning something to my usb stick anyway, its not telling me what..find out if this worked in about another 3 hrs :/ I just chose the “upgrade” option in media creation, rather than “burn iso/create media”, even though its effectively just buring an iso anyway! and so its downloading itself again -stupid.

      1. mat said on August 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm

        doing upgrade and then clean install with the standard home edition worked fine. :)

        My problem was that single language version wont activate from an upgraded version, I know because I tried. The message it said was “key is blocked” but my key wasnt blocked, this info was wrong, the key was just already activated after my upgrade.

        What it should have said was “you cant use this key for this edition of windows”

        Even though it is a smaller version. But fair enough, whatever.

        Really like windows 10, the upgrade is a load of shite though, so many places where they could have made it simple. They could have included all this information in the installation process and made it much easier.

        Total use of HD with the clean install is about 15gb after a fairly big recent update is installed for windows defender is installed. Worth doing the clean install afterward I would say, if you dont want your old windows backup, just makes the file system cleaner, and uses less room. Im done!

  25. Andrew McLellan said on July 31, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve fresh installed Windows 10 home single language. I had Windows 7 home premium installed previously. I still have the box with the legit product key, yet it does not work when trying to activate it? Please someone help me with this. Are MS going to sort this out or what?

  26. Ravi Shankar said on July 31, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Folks,
    My laptop came with Windows 8.1 Single language. I have applied all windows related updates, so far. But, still I have not received the “Get Windows 10 app” on my taskbar. I’m not able to reserve my upgrade yet. What could be the issue?

    I have the installation media for Windows 10 in my USB. When I run the setup, it would not accept my Windows 8.1 key, bcos it is not yet converted to Windows 10.

    However the amazing thing is the setup accepts the generic key published in this article. What will happen if I go ahead and upgrade with generic key? What are the consequences, if any?

    Thank you
    Ravi Shankar

  27. Andrew H. said on July 31, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    A question to those with issues thus far:

    Have you used the insider preview on the account you’re using with your upgrade?

    It has dawned on me that I was in fact using the preview edition on the 2 accounts I’ve had issues with.

    IF this is the case, then it seems our issues may be stemmed from this somehow.

    So, let’s say you’re upgrading Windows 7 but have been using the preview on another tester machine, using your MS account.

    Scenario 1: You upgrade and then log in with your account – issues occur.

    Scenario 2: You upgrade and log in with some other MS account/ie: one you did not use with the preview – I suspect this is when activation server will work properly and you’ll be given a proper Windows 10 key.

    If anyone can validate or invalidate this, I would highly appreciate it.

  28. Chees said on July 31, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Not sure if this will help anyone.

    I upgraded windows 7 to windows10 using windows 10 on a usb drive rather than through windows update ( you can download windows 10 from Microsoft rather than upgrading through the windows update prompt and make a bootable usb drive). I then activated it, downloaded and ran speccy, and took a not of my new serial number for windows.

    I booted from the usb, chose a clean install and used the key I had noted from speccy. This worked perfectly for me, giving me a clean install of windows 10 that is fully activated.

  29. Peter said on July 31, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Hi another question
    What’s difference between
    wwin 10 pro
    Win 10 pro n ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 31, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      N editions of Windows don’t include Windows Media Player by default.

  30. Peter said on July 31, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Martin
    I have my brought original license no for Win 7 ultimate, could I be confident in doing a clean install with this ?

  31. earl said on July 31, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Laptop1 Sager had windows 7, upgraded to 10, activated it, saw its own serial key.
    Laptop2 Dell had windows 7, upgraded to 10, activated it, saw its own serial key.

    I clean-installed both laptops to win 10, activated both successfully, both have the SAME win 10 serial key ending HCFC6. WTF?

    1. Donkeyfumbler said on July 31, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Which key did you see before though (after you upgraded and activated Windows 10, but before the clean install)? In my experience, every machine i have upgraded (3 so far) have the key ending HCFC6 once activation is complete – I have yet to clean install any of them.

      As I suggested in my earlier post, that key seems to be a generic ‘I am legit and activated’ key that every machine gets (unless possibly it was installed with a brand new Windows 10 key – i.e. not an upgrade from Windows 7/8). Microsoft are not using unique keys to track upgraded machines – they are verifiying that your machine is legit before the upgrade and then logging it (based on hardware, probably motherboard or serial number) in their databases for future re-activations.

      1. Donkeyfumbler said on August 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

        Interesting – so the cracked version had a different key after upgrading to all of the other machines (plus the ones I’ve done, which have all been legit).

        Difficult to say if that is because the upgrade process recognised the cracked version or if it is just a weird co-incidence I guess. It would seem odd that it allowed the upgrade though if that is the case (and even weirder that it allowed a clean install and gave it a different key).

        Let us know if you get a message from Microsoft at some point down the road, de-activating it and asking you to buy a proper licence!

        Maybe some other people here can post with the last five digits of their Windows 10 key post-upgrade?

      2. earl said on August 1, 2015 at 2:08 am

        Laptop1 Sager – CRACKED windows 7 Pro – upgraded to Win10 Pro then activated – serial key ends in J44DB
        Laptop2 Dell – genuine Win7 Pro – upgraded to Win10 Pro then activated – serial key ends in HCFC6

        Laptop1 Sager – clean-installed Win10 Pro then activated – serial key ends in HCFC6 (previous J44DB)
        Laptop2 Dell – clean-installed Win10 Pro then activated – serial key ends in HCFC6 (same as before)

        Note: I used script to reveal the key.. not jellybean.. I don’t know if jellybean reveals a different generic key.. I also did not login to my windows account ..just used internet and windows activated itself… I hit “Skip product key” on all the installs.

      3. earl said on August 1, 2015 at 2:02 am

        Laptop 1 Sager – Cracked Win7 Pro upgraded to Win10 Pro then activated – serial key ends in J44DB
        Laptop 2 Dell – Genuine Win7 Pro upgraded to Win10 Pro then activated – serial ends in HCFC6

        Laptop 1 Sager – Clean installed Win10 Pro – serial key ends in HCFC6 (previous J44DB)
        Laptop 2 Dell – Clean installed Win10 Pro – serial ends in HCFC6 (same as Win10 upgrade)

  32. David Slight said on July 31, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Just been on the phone with Activation support who transferred me to technical support who escalated to his manager …no help at all.

    Don’t even bother calling as you will get no where. And each time you transfer they want the installation ID all over again … how many times do I have to read that out?

    Did MSFT really think everyone was going to install old product and go through the upgrade cycle before they did a clean install? Absolute madness.

  33. Keith said on July 31, 2015 at 1:28 am

    I was trying to install the new and improved Windows, v.10, on my older Dell Vostro 2510 laptop running Win7, Ultimate, 32 bit system w. 4GB Ram, 120 FREE GB of HD. Downloaded the Media Creation Tool (waste of time no.1), Backed up my key files (time waster no.2-but not really); ran the MCT and spent the next 2-1/2 hrs waiting for Win10 to download and install (passed all tests that came up along the way). Made it almost to the very end, when Win10 Install crapped out, gave a quick error message that I was unable to catch, then went back to my Win7 System (with no problems, Thank goodness). Total wasted time: about 3-1/2 hours. Should I bill MSFT for about $2000? (No, because I’m an idiot for thinking MSFT would do this thing right–even though I have 50+ years experience with computer systems).

    Note that I have Linux running on 2 other systems that once had Windows on them–guess what I will probably do later when Win7 is no longer viable!?!

  34. Jim Carter said on July 30, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    This is a great one stop guide. Here’s a scenario that bothers me. The upgrade completes over a previous version of 7 or 8.1. Months later the hard drive crashes (totally). The drive is replaced and a copy of 10 (created from an ISO) is installed. Is there an activation issue because the hardware has changed? Is a generic or specific product key required in this scenario?

    1. David Slight said on July 31, 2015 at 6:28 am

      Yes, especially if you decided to pop in a new CPU or motherboard at the same time!

    2. Aziz Hamroqulov said on July 30, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      I am facing that right now, the differences are I wanna to clean install with new SSD…

  35. maxis1230 said on July 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Here’s what I want to try and wondering if anyone else has done so.

    1.Take out current win 7 pro Hard Drive. Load clean copy of windows 10 pro on SSD. Skip product key.
    2. Dual boot until everything is loaded into my clean version of win 10
    3. 10 days later Upgrade Win 7 pro Hard Drive to windows 10. Activate windows 10 on ssd.

    Thoughts on if this will work?

  36. Mike J. said on July 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I was in MajorGeeks yesterday, & there I saw Windows 10, apparently available to anyone as a free download.Strange, or did I miss the boat on this release??
    Not sure links are allowed, but

  37. Lee said on July 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    I have done the upgrade first thing and my key still wont allow me to do a clean install of windows 10 pretty frustrating this one.

    Im wondering if the key only converts after a month of having windows 10 installed. There is currently the option to go back to windows 8.1 for the first month so perhaps that’s the issue many of us are facing with trying to do a clean install after trying an upgrade first.

  38. Samuel said on July 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

    A pure nightmare, this. I’m also an IT-professional, and I’ve reinstalled back and forth all too many times now. It seems pretty fruitless to go with a clean install at this point. It’s probably best just to upgrade and wait for MS to get their shit together. Even though you don’t really want to install anything, because you’re going to delete it soon anyway. Puh. ;(

  39. Justine Chang said on July 30, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I am having this exact same problem. I have a product key for Windows 8 Single Language from the OEM. But I am unable to use it to activate my Windows 10 Home, I read around and saw that this is the version of Windows corresponding to my particular product key. Am I wrong? Please do tell me if there is a solution.

  40. David said on July 30, 2015 at 6:44 am

    ATTENTION: I just talked to MS tech support about upgrading and then using produkey to get the key and then doing a fresh install and not accepting the Windows 10 key. They are aware of this issue and the tech said that is should activate within 2 days. So the bottom line (I guess) is to just skip adding the Windows 10 key until after you do the install, you will get an error saying the key is no good and then wait 2 days. If you want, you can you bring up a command window and type “slui 4” it will pop up the phone activation. You can then talk to a tech after the installation id is entered.

  41. Yirbeelt said on July 30, 2015 at 5:32 am

    When i boot for the first time i clicked In The creating a clean install. And cancelled It and now it wont show me to choose if i want to istall or upgrade when i boot it again from my USB

  42. Nashdic said on July 30, 2015 at 4:30 am

    and there is one more thing about to make clean install but you can try , after you make an upgrade and windows 10 running , use the tool again like in pictures above , make an iso burn it and start installation again from usb drive , and when you get screen about to make update or costume installation forma only one partition big one don’t make any changes to other becose the machine allredy remember your key , format it if it’s grey delete partition make new one and install and them maybe only maybe after that windows will be activated , sorryyy guys i can’t tell you becose all ready make 4 th installation apart one by one and still windows 10 pro x64 not activated becose the key is blocked , it’s take very much time to reinstall win 7 pro x 64 then make 289 updates and them make upgrade ….. f……it i am very tire now but still on take care guys sorryyy for grammar can’t see and long time did’t sleep see you all

  43. Nashdic said on July 30, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Well guys i think this is the problem about , i am allready make 3 clean installs from win 7 pro to win 10 pro , and after i make iso and make clean install win 10 pro is not activate becose the key is blocked i don’t now why , but there is some more we all make upgrade from and to and obsolutely same key have averyone from upgrade especialy win 7 pro ? the key is one for all or what ? VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T how can this be ? everyone have converted key but now we have only one and for all wtf ???????????

  44. akirax said on July 30, 2015 at 2:50 am

    If the above doesn’t work, goto the settings app, update and security, activation.

    1. Click Go to store.

    This should open up a web page display the message that your copy of windows is genuine.

    Activation should be complete.

  45. D Colpitts said on July 30, 2015 at 1:55 am

    I have to agree with the rest of the folks that can’t activate. I’m an IT specialist and this sort stuff is what I do for a living (infact – part of my job description is to build customized deployment images for 1000s of machines a year for various clients). I have brand new HP ZBook 14 Mobile Workstation that I took out of it’s cardboard box from the factory this morning. I pulled the OEM 750 GB HD and put in a 480 GB SSD. I attempted a clean install and was not able to activate. I cloned the OEM preload of Windows 7 to the SSD from the HDD, ran through the HP setup, than used the same ISO image (extracted to a network share) to in-place upgrade. The upgrade went pretty quick, and I ended up with an activated version of Windows 10 Pro on this ZBook on the 480GB SSD. Next, I shutdown Windows, and swapped the 480GB SSD for another new blank 240GB SSD, booted into DaRT and ran setup from the same network share. I hit skip on the first prompt the product key, and same thing on the product key prompt immediately after the first boot. Once Windows 10 Pro finished installing, I checked my activation status and found – much as I expected – it was NOT activated (it has the generic product key of VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T).

    And much like Malte – I’ve got a second machine here now that I’m using an HP Windows 7 SP1 Pro recovery disc on (it had a bad HDD in it that I couldn’t clone to begin with), and I’ll in-place it.

    But it shouldn’t be this damn hard. I’m wondering if the same idiots at Microsoft designed this as the group that designed WiFi Sense.


    1. Pete said on July 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      I feel your pain D Colpitts. Some of us have some IT experience and some of the reply’s get under my skin. It’s a Microsoft problem, not a problem of “did I tie my shoes before they fell off”. LOL

  46. akirax said on July 30, 2015 at 1:53 am

    1. make sure you’re signed in with your MS account.
    2. go to settings app, then Accounts and perform the procedure to verify your account.

    just did clean install, did the above and now windows 10 is activated.

  47. Joe said on July 30, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Mine finally activated. I had to reboot 4 times and put the machine into recovery, then I went to Windows 10 without actually doing anything, and upon startup it was activated. So maybe it is just activation server issues.

  48. Joe said on July 30, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Happened to me to. Upgrade from 8.1 to 10, Activated and confirmed it was activated 3 hours later. Went to do clean install. Installed fine. Says cannot activate key blocked by server.

  49. shazam said on July 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    What’s the story with Virtual machine Win8 –> Win10 installations? What’s the user story like for the VM –> Clean Win10 installation like?

  50. Donkeyfumbler said on July 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

    All very confusing, I agree.

    As I understand it, the keys that Martin has added above are generic keys that your PC is given during the Windows 10 upgrade procedure and are used to activate the PC once the upgrade is complete. Presumably there is some kind of check on your Windows 7/8/8.1 key before it is changed to that to make sure it is genuine.

    Certainly the second PC I upgraded had the one ending 3V66T when I checked. I was having problems activating that I presume were due to the server being hammered as it did eventually activate. Running the VBS script on my PC now, I find it tells me I have a third key (i.e. one different to my original Windows 7 key and the temporary pre-activation Windows 10 key).

    At first I thought it was going to be my unique ‘proper’ Windows 10 key for this computer, but then I ran the script on the first PC I upgraded and found that the key was exactly the same. These are two totally different PCs, one upgraded from Windows 7 Ultimate retail (self-built desktop) and one upgraded from Windows 7 Pro OEM (HP Laptop). It would be interesting to know if other people who have activated Windows 10 Pro successfully also have the same key (it ends in C6) but I would presume they do.

    As I see it, there are three alternatives here for why this clean install procedure is not working for people:

    1. Microsoft have given us duff info and it is simply wrong
    2. People’s original activation of their upgrade has gone wrong somehow and not registered properly with MS
    3. The activation servers are being killed at the moment and simply can’t cope – they aren’t able to process all of the activations and therefore verify that the PC you are now doing the clean install on is one that was previously upgraded.

    Given the amount of time and errors it took me to activate my second PC, my guess is on option 3 and I imagine that, if people give it enough time, eventually the servers will catch up and the activation will work.

    What would be nice to know, this being the case, is what exactly the activation is tied to – is it your motherboard, a summary of all of your hardware, does it include your MS account (doubtful as I activated my upgrades before changing my local user to an MS account)? What can I change in my self-build before I would not be able to re-install Windows 10 on it?

    1. Pete said on July 30, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Typically activation is tied to your Mother board. Hope this helps…so if you ever replace your mobo on your machine then try to reinstall you will have issues.

  51. MarkMcC said on July 30, 2015 at 12:02 am

    A lot of people don’t seem to realise that you can effectively do a clean install during the upgrade.

    I downloaded the installation files onto a thumb drive using the linked utility, then ran the Setup.exe from the drive while still in Win8.1. There’s an option during the Upgrade installation to choose what to keep. One of the options is “Delete Everything”. I selected that, and during the install it asked all the questions (such as setting up a user, choosing privacy settings etc) that I’d have gotten from doing a clean install.

    End result: a clean, activated Win10 installation after one install.

    It doesn’t do a full format of the install drive. It deletes the Windows, Program Files, Program Files (x86), and Users directories which is the next best thing. Those are basically the only directories I have on C: as all my data is on a separate drive.

    It creates a windows.old directory and a few temp dirs, but a quick Disk Cleanup after install got rid of them.

    1. Andrew H. said on July 31, 2015 at 6:28 am

      This is actually nowhere close to a clean install, especially when it comes to SSDs. Personally, I do a ‘real’ clean install because I want the drive wiped clean (in a deeper sense), which ultimately has proven time and time again to work better than upgrading the system. I like to delete the partition(s) completely and remake them if necessary. In this case, I do a secure erase of the SSDs to get them back to factory conditions. The “Keep Nothing” setting just isn’t satisfactory for me, even on a system that has been somewhat kept in a “sterile” state.

    2. Pete said on July 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      This is a “somewhat” clean install. Most of us more advanced users would rather do a complete secure erase on their ssd’s. But yes for people that don’t care a ton about a truly clean install, this method will most likely work.

  52. Lucifer said on July 29, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Alright, I am on 8.1 cracked.

    Will this still work for me?

  53. Malte said on July 29, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Same for me. Ran an update from Windows 7, activated Windows 10, now did a clean install – won´t activate … Well … I´ve got lots of time … doing a Windows 7 installation now to run the update again :(

    1. Andrew H. said on July 30, 2015 at 5:57 am

      I left it alone for a while (out of frustration) and when I came back I clicked “Go To Store” where it says “Your Windows Key is Genuine”, when I come back out it still wasn’t activating so I restart the machine and voila!

      Activated, and my key has now changed to something completely different. I guess their servers may have been hammered or not adjusting keys properly.

      I am now going to attempt to do this on my HTPC. The HTPC FINALLY activated (from the upgrade) but doesn’t provide a key at all anywhere so I don’t know what will happen when I clean install (hopefully it successfully activates without all the drama).

    2. Rick said on July 30, 2015 at 1:12 am

      You don’t have to reinstall 7 …

      Go into ‘update and security / recovery / go back to win x’.

      1. Wol said on August 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

        That only (perhaps) works if you let M$ do the “upgrade” (my quotes; I have my own opinion on that one.)

        In my case the “push” “upgrade” didn’t work, so I installed Ten via the .iso download. There’s no option now to revert to Seven.

        So I am doing a reformat and installaton of Seven from my recovery DVDs I made when I bought the computer.

  54. Andrew H. said on July 29, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Unfortunately this hasn’t worked for me. I am using my MS account. I upgraded and activated on my main machine from Windows 8.1 Pro (Genuine)
    I then wiped it out because even when you do the upgrade and select “Keep Nothing”, you still end up with everything that was on the C:.
    After I clean installed and tried to activate again, it says gives me an error and refuses to activate. It’s saying my key is blocked on the activation servers but the key essentially looks like the one that’s used by windows 10 to install without a key (you know, when you “skip” entering a key. It’s not even giving me the option to call MS. Now I will have to reinstall my windows 8.0, update to 8.1and try this all over again at a later point in time.
    P.S, I also tried this on my HTPC and got the same result. Keep in mind, my HTPC was also running a copy of 8.1 Pro (Genuine). I’m scared to try my wife’s laptop now for fear that the same thing will occur.

    I guess my question is, at what point does the key convert? After the first time I did the upgrade the key was the same as when you install using a blank key, ie: 3Vxxx.

    Very confused right now.

  55. Sleeping said on July 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I upgraded to Windows 10 home from Windows 7 Home Premium fully activated using the tool and choosing to upgrade.
    Now I can’t activate. It keeps telling me to try again later. What can I do?

    1. Sleeping said on July 29, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      Now I realized. I have used to upgrade a windows 7 product key I had already used for the 29,99€ upgrade to Windows 8 two years ago…

  56. Arend said on July 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I wiped all partitions clean, so my only bet is installing Windows 8 from a MSDN ISO. Which I do have somewhere. But I will wait until this is sorted out. It looks like the web is lighting up with people who run into this same problem.

  57. SCBright said on July 29, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    What a mess! Seems that the people don’t understand five steps:
    1 – Upgrade from your current system to W10;
    2 – Activate it (you need to be connected to internet and it took some time)
    3 – Activated? If yes, now you can do a clean install or reset windows
    4 – During install skip the product key
    5 – Be happy!
    The activation is tied to only one specific machine, even if you get the product key by any means, it will be not useful for any other computer. Once activated you may be able to clean install windows as many times you need.

    1. cindy said on September 14, 2015 at 8:20 am

      I have tried to upgrade to win10 from win8.1 on my toshiba L875d at least 5 times. each time it gets about 29% installed and quits. I get an error code 0xc1900101-0x30018. Been surfing all over trying to find a solution but not getting anywhere. It simply will not do the upgrade, I have ran windows update numerous times to make sure all updates have been installed. There are no more updates for 8.1 that i have installed. So i’m stuck. Any ideas?

    2. Adam03 said on July 31, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Yeah but Windows 10 doesn’t accept my GENUINE Windows 7 key before it will update to Windows 10 so I am stuck at first base !

    3. Tanmoy Das said on July 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

      How to upgrade to Windows 10? As I am unable to upgrade to Windows 10 using Windows update!

    4. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      HAVE YOU DONE THIS SC? Because I followed those steps twice, and wasted 4 hours of my life….both times to come up with invalid product key (even though I had activated it thru upgraded 8.1 first). Yes it will let you install, but STILL SHOWS UP as a “NOT ACTIVATED PRODUCT”… you will have problems with this in the future. until they fix this, I would not recommend ANYONE waste their time.

      1. bernie said on August 19, 2015 at 6:41 pm

        I ACTIVATED window 10 frm 7 pro LAST WEEK and now it is asking me to activate again…why?

      2. SCBright said on July 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm

        Yes, I did and worked.
        Sorry for wasting so much of your life and mine trying to help.
        I will not waste my time with it, good luck and be happy!

    5. Arend said on July 29, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Sure these steps aren’t too hard, if you know them in advance. The problem is I was expecting this to work as good (or even better) than the Windows 8 install, which was able to read the BIOS product key and did not even ask during install.

      1. SCBright said on July 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        Did you tried to reset?
        Resetting your PC reinstalls Windows but deletes your files, settings, and apps, it’s very close to a clean install. It’ll not ask for a product key because windows is already activated.
        You need to upgrade your windows before you reset.
        Open Settings, and click/tap on the Update & recovery icon, click/tap on Recovery on the left side and click/tap on the Get started button on the right side under Reset this PC.

  58. Tanmoy Das said on July 29, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Hey, I am using Windows 7 Home Premium genuine version and previously I had reserved for Windows 10 but now I am not getting the update though my system fully updated, moreover the Windows 10 update icon in system tray not showing now! Help me please!

  59. Christoph said on July 29, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I did a win 8.1 -> 10 update, then clean install with skipping to enter product key. Win 10 could not be activated, wrong product key… Now I have a problem…

    1. Brett said on July 31, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Not sure if this will work for you but worth a try. It worked for me.

      I have an update for anyone that is still having this issue. I tried opening up the command prompt as administrator and spamming slmgr.vbs /ato . For some, after about 50 tries it finally activated for them. However, this did not work for me and I kept receiving the error stating my product key was blocked.

      Instead what I did was go to settings > update and security > activation > open store (cant remember what exactly the option was but it should take you to the windows store)

      There should be two buttons you can press

      1. Buy for $119

      2. Upgrade to Pro

      I clicked on option 2 to upgrade to pro.

      I clicked yes to install updates and then my computer installed the updates, rebooted twice (I believe) and then voila. I logged in and my Windows 10 was activated.

      I have Windows 7 before this so I am not sure how it works if you had Windows 8.1 before.

      Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

      1. Ginky said on August 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

        This works for me

      2. Anonymous said on August 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        Yup, this works. Upgrade was quick, 3 minutes and now its activated

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      You need to skip Christoph when you are asked for a product key.

      1. Pete said on July 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm

        Thanks Rick and Martin… yea my MS account was linked, so that’s a non issue. Maybe it’s a server issue… but still doesn’t explain two different product keys… one I use to install 8.1, then other one showing up when I run the notepad script. Maybe will just partition the SSD, and try to do a clean install on partition first before I secure erase the whole thing again.

      2. Rick said on July 30, 2015 at 1:10 am

        I don’t know why others are having an issue but … I have upgraded 4 machines to win10pro x64 and then did a clean installation and all was good.

        If I was guessing, the upgrade was done on a local account rather than having it linked to your MS account and therefore there is no record of the win10 activation.

        And if you are ‘stuck’, in the first 30 days you can restart the process by downgrading to Win7/8 under ‘update and security / recovery / go back to win x’.

        Try the update process again, this time making sure to link your MS account when installing.

      3. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:45 pm

        Martin… very confused at this one. Double checked my product key on my version of 8.1 that I JUST REINSTALLED using my product key(sitting right in front of me) from a disk image, and now shows up a different product key using your “notepad Vbs tool”… very confused. The one that came with my 8.1 (J7N7P*******) The one that shows up using notepad script (PQPCK********). Do you think when I upgraded and activated it changed my original product key? IF SO, why did original product key work for Reinstall after the utter failure?

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on July 30, 2015 at 6:35 am

        To be honest, I don’t know. I think your “upgrade” worked fine. The non-activation issue was likely due to the activation servers getting hammered, as some users experienced the same and their systems activated after a while.

      5. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:38 pm

        Thanks for the Reply Martin… so pissed off after wasting my life away with this, I might just stick with 8.1 and move to arch Linux on the next build. Screw em… but who knows, maybe I will cool off in a week or two and try again. Thank god for disk images

      6. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        don’t listen to this Christoph… I did skip and so did others. Still do not see it as a valid product key once windows 10 is installed and your online. Sorry Martin, you just keep saying this…but it does not work.

      7. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

        I have updated the article. If you still can, please try the method listed under Update. It appears that generic keys are assigned to some systems instead of the correct key.

  60. Edwin Stewart said on July 29, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    This is some BS from MS!! Why can’t the .iso of W10 detect something in the BIOS of the computer you’re doing a clean install to, determine if key genuine and then convert it. Or, if you skip that step during installation, then enter the key once you’re connected to wifi, that info should be sent to MS so that they can determine if the key is legit. It’s just ridiculous to upgrade, then do a clean install, when you can just bypass that step ALL together.

    By the way I did do a clean install straight from the .iso and was prompted to enter the key. It failed during the install, and failed again after I connected to wifi. This is SOOOOOO silly!! :P

    There has GOT to be a better way!!

  61. Duane said on July 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Have just spent 30 minutes talking online with a rep from Microsoft.
    I ran the upgrade on my laptop and everything was fine and windows was activated. I then ran a clean install and my key wouldn’t activate.
    Rep from Microsoft tells me that upgrade users only get a default key and I should buy Windows 10 so I don’t have issues in the future. Tells me I need to install Windows 8.1, do the upgrade again to get Windows 10 :/

    1. Brett said on July 31, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      I have an update for anyone that is still having this issue. I tried opening up the command prompt as administrator and spamming slmgr.vbs /ato . For some, after about 50 tries it finally activated for them. However, this did not work for me and I kept receiving the error stating my product key was blocked.

      Instead what I did was go to settings > update and security > activation > open store (cant remember what exactly the option was but it should take you to the windows store)

      There should be two buttons you can press

      1. Buy for $119

      2. Upgrade to Pro

      I clicked on option 2 to upgrade to pro.

      I clicked yes to install updates and then my computer installed the updates, rebooted twice (I believe) and then voila. I logged in and my Windows 10 was activated.

      I have Windows 7 before this so I am not sure how it works if you had Windows 8.1 before.

      Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

    2. DVD Rambo said on July 30, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      That MS rep didn’t tell you what a Partner manager said in a webinar last week. The upgrade (is supposed to) assigns a hardware based digital entitlement which is stored on MS servers. A clean install should check the hardware (motherboard) against the info stored. It is possible that MS’s system are just overloaded and are making errors, possible many errors.

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      According to their own info page, this should not be the case: If you upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer and successfully activated Windows 10 on this PC in the past, you won’t have a Windows 10 product key, and you can skip the product key page by selecting the Skip button. Your PC will activate online automatically so long as the same edition of Windows 10 was successfully activated on this PC by using the free Windows 10 upgrade offer.

      You should automatically have an activated machine once you go online.

      1. Aaron C said on August 19, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        WOL – That’s not entirely true. The free upgrade is available until the end of July 2016. If you go back to 7 and “re-upgrade” to 10 before July of 2016, you should not have to pay for a license from what I understand.

        Technically, I have done this as well. When my “upgrade” of 10 got “activated,” and then I did a clean install that didn’t work, I went back and used my old Windows 8 key to try it again. The Windows 8 key was activated, and then I did the in-place “upgrade,” and then activated, then did a clean install of 10 and this time that activated as well.

        I think my issue was that I had tried to enter my windows 8 key at one point during the clean install, and when it didn’t work, I THEN hit “skip” and proceeded. That must have messed something up. This time I hit “skip” all the way and the clean install activated as soon as the installation process finished.

        Anyway, I think as long as you upgrade before July of 2016, you are still good. I don’t know why MS reps say things that clearly aren’t true.

      2. Wol said on August 19, 2015 at 11:02 am

        Martin: I spent 30 mins with M$ yesterday asking whether I can reinstall 10 since I am going back to seven (huge number of random issues with 10).

        I was told that since I had done a clean install from the downloaded .iso, if I try and reinstall 10 after going back to seven I will have to buy a licence.

        Since the reason I used a .iso instead of letting the upgrade “happen” was that the latter just didn’t work, I am p****d off.

        IMO the beta testing of ten probably threw up vast numbers of issues, many random and non-reproducible and these were just written off as not important. What a way to introduce an OS!.

      3. Aaron C said on August 3, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        “Should” being the key word here. It just doesn’t work. I used “skip” through the key questions, hoping that once it was installed Win 10 would dutifully contact MS’ servers to activate because it knew my hardware combo. Nope. Not working. I guess the only real way to do this is a fresh install of Win8.1, then a quick upgrade to 10 because installing 10 directly doesn’t work (even after doing the “proper” upgrade as recommended by MS).

      4. RS said on July 31, 2015 at 6:49 pm

        I ended up in the same fate as Pete. I at least took screenshots under way, of both my active product id and product key before and after upgrade, so MS support will hear from me again on monday. The confused “advanced tech support” told me it would fix itself after 24 hours, I call bullshit.

      5. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:17 pm

        Sorry Martin… your just wrong here. I did SKIP and went ahead with install. Still did not recognize product key online… and yes I did upgrade 8.1 first, then clean install from iso.

  62. Adev said on July 29, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Just bought a new laptop, created the windows 10 USB drive and wiped everything clean. Now I can’t activate Windows 10..
    Hope Microsoft will release an online tool to convert (extracted from BIOS) OEM key to Windows 10. Even though it should just have read the key from the BIOS in the first place. This hassle together with not being able to use Bitlocker due to the home edition restrictions makes me probably decide to stay on Linux. I was ready to try this new Windows 10 thing, but so far it’s a big disappointment.

    1. DVD Rambo said on July 30, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      A customer of ours had his 9 year old Dell laptop die two days ago. I pulled the still readable hard drive and copied his data files from it. The next day, yesterday morning, he dropped off a new Dell with Windows 8.1 to have us get it up and running and copy his files over to it. During the setup a window came up and asked if I wanted the free upgrade to Windows 10. So, I said yes. Two hours later the machine had a pristine Windows 10 installation and a local account. MS account was not setup. Most of our retired customers like it that way. So much for a new PC upgrade. It was fast and flawless. On the other hand, my 2 year old Lenovo S400 Touch has failed to upgrade multiple times. I’ll wait, like the GWX notice says “We’re validating for your PC…”. Maybe that’s true. I have 364 more days to find out.

    2. Justine Chang said on July 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

      I have this exact same problem. EXACT! Hopefully a tool comes out soon ><

    3. Decent60 said on July 30, 2015 at 12:33 am

      Why would it read it from the BIOS?
      Generally speaking, it’s only DVD’s received from the manufacturer (HP, Dell, etc) that look for it there (as they are the ones that put it there). Microsoft OEM disks/ISO do not check that at all. All information should be loaded in from actual installation and registry keys.

      1. mr lexx said on July 30, 2015 at 1:55 am

        windows 8 Branded OEM systems (HP, Dell, etc) use the UEFI to store the key when installing windows 8 or 8 pro (you have to install the correct version but for most it will be just windows 8.1)

        it automatically activates online (once internet is connected) they don’t use the Cert burnt into the disk any more (all windows 8 DVDs are the same now as even the Branding is built into the UEFI), if it asks for a Key at the end of the install you got a incorrect verison media (retail disk instead of OEM) or have reset the UEFI keys in the bios
        or (above is the same just more detail)
        for windows 10 (i just downloaded the windows 10 and 10 pro ISOs ready for upgrades)

    4. Edwin Stewart said on July 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Yep..This just a silly, unnecessary mess. :P

      1. Arend said on July 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm

        Absolutely. It could have been a smooth ride. The OS itself looks great. What a way to mess up a product launch.

  63. Robert said on July 29, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Still attempting to do a clean install, After making the image, My system doesn’t recognize the Dvd as a bootable disc.

    1. Alex L. said on July 30, 2015 at 12:11 am

      I am having the same problem. I used Microsoft’s media creation tool to download the ISO and burn it to a DVD-R, using Windows 7’s native disc burner.

      Next, using the same media creation tool, I performed the upgrade to Windows 10. It appears to be running okay, though there appear to be some small issues with my display drivers and/or monitor.

      Finally, I attempted to Clean Install but my system won’t recognize the DVD as a bootable disc. To test this, I inserted my Windows 7 installation disc, and it recognized it as a bootable disc and started the OS installation process as it should have. I copied the ISO to a flash drive and tried to boot from that as well, but that didn’t work either.

      Is this the only way to do a Clean Install? Or can one do it by running the Media Creation Tool once more, but this time selecting “Nothing”, which apparently saves neither apps nor personal files before installing Windows 10?

  64. Paritosh said on July 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, did it on the very same machine with the product key of Windows 8.1.

    1. Pete said on July 29, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      @Paritosh … Did the same thing you did. Upgraded 8.1 to windows 10, even made sure I “activated key”. Then did secure erase on my ssd for a clean install. The clean install did not work, said product key was invalid. I even did the “skip” process and went ahead with the install thinking to myself that once online it would be tied into servers and recognize key..NOPE, that did not work either. That is 4 hours of my life I will never get back, starting to wonder why I am not using arch linux

      1. Aaron C said on August 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        I’m ten hours in. Do you know how tough it is to reload all your mods in Fallout 3 and New Vegas and get everything running properly on a new OS? I will try to call MS tonight to see if I can resolve this, but if this results in another installation, I’m not going to be happy.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      So the product key was not accepted?Did you use the skip button?

      1. Paritosh said on July 29, 2015 at 7:43 pm

        This is what happened. I used the skip button, went on with installation and after it I wasn’t able to use Windows 8.1 key for activation. I was using Pro and downloaded the image for Win 10 Pro. Nevertheless, I had to use a separate key for Windows 10 (a new one so to say).

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        Your system should have been activated automatically after the clean installation. Did you use a local or online account for that (the same as in the upgrade?)

  65. Paritosh said on July 29, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Tried this approach. Upgraded to Windows 10 and then tried to use iso for clean install with Windows 8.1 key. Didn’t work.

    1. Aaron C said on August 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Same here. I upgraded in-place, successfully, then wiped machine and used the Media Creation Tool to install Windows 10 cleanly. Machine will not activate now. It has been several days and I have rebooted several times.

      1. Someone said on August 16, 2015 at 9:15 pm

        Having the same issue as Aaron C this weekend.

        Toshiba L550 with W7Pro
        – This last patch Tuesday broke the original W10 upgrade so I tried direct W10 install; does not activate 0xC004c003 “This key is blocked”.
        – Reinstalled W7 (required phone activation) and then upgrade to W10 installs and activates fine.
        – After which, a fresh install does not activate 0xC004c003 “This key is blocked”.
        NOTE: for both have local account only.

        Have done this twice with the same results.

        Also tried W7 upgrade to W10, followed by Reset everything which appears to work but W10 no longer boots :(

        W7 is looking good enough.

      2. Aaron C said on August 3, 2015 at 10:03 pm

        Absolutely. It was 100% activated. I knew that would be a potential issue when trying to do a clean install afterward. Yes, it is exactly the same version.

        I actually found a way to do a phone activation through a command line prompt (seeing as how there is no more “do it by phone” link available when you’re activating), thinking maybe that would solve it.

        The Microsoft rep asked what error I was getting, and I told him my key was “blocked.” He told me that “blocked” didn’t necessarily mean blocked. He said the activation servers continue to have issues and they are trying to resolve them. They said 48 hours, possibly longer, but I was told I could use Windows 10 unactivated for up to 30 days.

        So we’ll see. I don’t know why my initial activation went fine, but a clean install wouldn’t, but I’ll wait until the weekend and see I guess.

      3. Jason said on August 3, 2015 at 8:34 pm

        @Aaron C
        When u did the in-place upgrade, did u make sure it activated successfully before doing a clean install? Also, are you using the same version for the clean install as the activated version; ie, pro or home, 32 bit or 64 bit?

    2. Paul said on July 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Your Problem is not the OS its that you are doing it wrong. Plain and simple. After you have upgraded your os from say 7/8.1 to 10 and then activated it successfully you can then do a clean install but when you do you do not use the old versions key and when it asks for a key you click skip and when its all loaded up you click activate again and it will automatically pull your activation from their system

      1. Cecil said on July 31, 2015 at 9:02 pm

        Hey I am currently trying to do the upgrade but there is no skip button for the product key input, i get back or next. Any way to get around it that you know of?

      2. Myles said on July 31, 2015 at 10:40 am

        You are right!

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      What did not work exactly? The product key? Did you try to do so on the same machine?

      1. nicks said on July 29, 2015 at 9:27 pm

        No way people, I upgraded from 8.1 then performed clean install the win 10 can’t be activated by any means
        Completely useless OS

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        Could be that the activation servers are under massive load right now. I can only stress again that this is the official way as described by Microsoft.

  66. Aaron said on July 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    After the upgrade process, ie. when it converts my windows 7 product key into a windows 10 product key, will i get the chance to note down the new windows 10 key? I want to confirm this as I am guess i will need it when i do a clean install

    Also will my old windows 7 key work if i choose to install windows 7 elsewhere or if i choose to revert back?

    1. Decent60 said on July 30, 2015 at 12:27 am


      Should be noted that the key used to Upgrade (Windows 7 in your case) will have 30 days to be reverted back once converted to Windows 10. After that time period, the previous OS key will no longer be valid. This makes it impossible to do what you’re asking.
      This is beyond the point that ilev also stated.

    2. ilev said on July 29, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Windows 10 in NOT transferable and is tied to the hardware it was installed on. So, you can’t use Windows 10 key on another PC/Mac.

    3. SCBright said on July 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      You don’t need to write down the product key, the activation is tied to your hardware (and your MS account I guess), so if you upgraded and activated you are good to do a clean install without the need of a product key.

      This activation is for the life of your device (laptop, tablet or desktop), so you have the opportunity to do many clean installs in this specific machine.

      I recommend, after the upgrade and activation, you reset your windows 10 instead of do a clean install.

      1. Aaron said on July 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm

        I am in a bit of tricky situation at the moment…I hope you can help.

        I have Windows 7 on a laptop and I want to re-install this as bootcamp onto a different laptop (macbook). Unfortunately the latest macbooks do not support windows 7, only windows 8 upwards. Therefore I need to upgrade on my current laptop to 10 to get the new product key. I can then delete the windows 10 on my original laptop and install to my macbook with the new product key.

        Is there anyway of obtaining the windows 10 product key after upgrading?

  67. Peter said on July 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Martin
    A bit off topic but would be of interest. I have all my system bitlocked should i un encrypt before I update ?

    Windows 7 Ultimate

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      This may help, it is for Vista to Windows 7 but should apply still (I did not try this so make sure you backup your important files)

      1. Anonymous said on July 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm

        Thanks Martin
        I think I will un encrypt when I decide to upgrade

  68. L.J said on July 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I’m rather confused about this…

    So if my system has been updated to Windows 10….. is the key converted automatically? I did notice that my key changed when I checked with ProduKey.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      It is converted during the process.

      1. L.J said on July 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm

        So all I have to do now is use the .iso and enter the new key whenever it asks (or automatically does it I assume)?

  69. RossN said on July 29, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Two blue-screens on this PC – normal Windows Update today – but it recovered and continued automatically.
    My laptop – version 10162 last week – had no problems at all. Even had fun with Cortana (US Language & Region settings).

    1. Mike said on August 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      I have tried over 20 times, cleaned, reloaded 8.1 and uninstalled every program not original – just end up with “something happened.”
      I hate 8.1 – it is much worse than XP – even with Xp’s short comings. I have only kept it for win 10 and photoshop – I can’t do a clean install of win 10 as it won’t do the initial load. It has now completely crashed my laptop – wouldn’t boot at all, recovery failed and wouldn’t recognise the DVD or USB. I finally tricked the UEFI (horrid thing) to run a dvd and then I was able to reload from a clone of the OS I made before. If MS can’t help people in my position, except me forking out for a new licence when the original won’t work – then MS deserve the scorn it has earned with MS millenium, Vista, Win 8 and to a lesser degree Win 8.1.

      Come on MS have you no answer for people who are stuck like me – is my only options to pay again or pirate a version because MS don’t care for a moment.

      BTW I started my work Win 7 and was greeted with updating 1 of 57,000 updates. I killed the power immediately. Does anyone know if there is a way of running photoshop on Linux – then goodbye MS, stranglehold security, vulnerability, endless patches and inflexibility.

      1. Ljub said on January 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

        Instead photoshop on linux try to use Gimp or Krita

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